New Space Telescope to detect asteroids hazardous to Earth –
By: Sherly J. Victor
New Space Telescope heads towards the design phase –
The New Space Telescope Helps To deflect asteroids–
NASA has approved a new space telescope named The Near-Earth Object Surveyor space telescope or NEO Surveyor. This new space telescope is a 20-foot-long infrared telescope, which could help astronomers find potentially threatening asteroids and comets.
“NEO Surveyor will have the capability to rapidly accelerate the rate at which NASA can discover asteroids and comets that could pose a hazard to the Earth, and it designs so discover 90% of asteroids 459 feet in size or larger within a decade of being launched,” said Mike Kelley, NEO Surveyor program scientist at NASA Headquarters, in a statement.
The mission is to be led by Amy Mainzer, an expert in infrared astronomy and a professor at the University of Arizona. “We think there are about 25,000 NEOs large enough to wipe out an area like Southern California,” Mainzer said. “Once they get bigger than about 450 feet in diameter, they can cause severe regional damage. So we want to find these and as many smaller ones as possible.”
The schedule of year 2026–
The new space telescope scheduled to deploy in the year 2026. Thus, many changes may happen till then. NASA has already found that 40% of objects equal to or greater than 40 meters. But to go any further, it is not easy to detect from earth-based telescopes. Also, finding them in visible light is very difficult.
“Each night, astronomers across the globe diligently use ground-based optical telescopes to discover new NEOs, characterize their shape and size, and confirm they do not pose a threat to us,” said Kelly Fast, program manager for NASA’s NEO Observations Program, in a statement.
NASA’s plan –
Thus, Infrared will increase search efficiency. But it’s not possible to search Earth so that the telescope will be sent in a spacecraft. When the NEOs (Near earth objects) reach the solar system, they get warmed by the heat from the sun. This heat will be detected through Infrared by the new space telescope.
In a press release, Mainzer said, “Earth-approaching asteroids and comets warm by the sun, and they give off heat that the NEO Surveyor mission will be able to pick up. So even asteroids as dark as a chunk of coal won’t be able to hide from our infrared eyes.”
The goal is to identify enough objects and deflect them. NASA has planned to test its asteroid deflection technology later this year. The mission named DART or the Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission is a significant step in the deflection of NEOs.
Two years back, a near-earth asteroid called Didymos was found, with its moon dubbed Dimorphos, orbiting it. By 2022, Didymos and Dimorphos will be within 6,835,083 miles closer to EarthEarth.
According to NASA, “The DART spacecraft will deliberately crash into Dimorphos to change the asteroid’s motion in space, according to NASA.” And this collision will only change its speed by 1%, which is not a lot. But it will change the orbital period of the moon by some minutes.
According to the European Space Agency, it will be the first time humans have altered the dynamics of a solar system body in a dignified way, according to European Space Agency.
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